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Reforming teacher careers: Learning from country experiences

Wed, March 8, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Sheraton Atlanta, 1, Georgia 5 (South Tower)

Session Submission Type: Group Panel

Description of Session

New Public Management reforms have been transferring private sector managerial techniques into the public sector for many years. In ministries of education, this tendency has been particularly visible in the area of teacher management. The consensus around the recognition of teachers’ performance as fundamental to improve education quality, combined with the fact that teacher wage bills typically represent the greatest source of public education spending, have unsurprisingly resulted in many countries undertaking reforms affecting the organisation and management of their teachers’ careers.
Thrusts towards more accountability, evaluation and merit-pay programmes amongst others, or what could be more generally referred to as performance-based management have been strongly promoted by international organizations, creating an imbalance in comparison to other paradigms (e.g. professionalism paradigm) and pressuring governments to adopt standardized practices without adequately attending to equity concerns and contexts specificities (Tatto, 2007). Yet, conclusive evidence on effects of diverse options related to teacher careers is still missing and more research evidence is needed.
Building on motivation theories (Herzberg’s dual factory-theory, 1968; Deci and Ryan’s Self Determination Theory, 1985; Vroom’s ‘expectancy theory’, 1964; and Adam’s theory, 1965), this research sought to distinguish between different teacher career models and to focus on those offering the best perspectives for teacher professional autonomy and growth essential for job satisfaction and motivation.
A panel session discussion will take as a starting point the results of an international comparative research project on teacher careers that was designed from a qualitative paradigm using a three phased approach. The first phase of the research gathered the existing evidence related to the organization of teachers’ careers in a wide range of countries and developed the theoretical framework as well as a typology of career models and evaluation modalities. A second phase conducted in eight countries from diverse income levels having undertaken reforms of their career structure mapped the detailed description of national teacher career structures and shed light on their perceived effects on teacher motivation, attraction, and retention as well as documented implementation challenges.
The discussion over the results of the first two phases will allow to inquire into the desirability of market mechanisms in the organization of teacher careers in light of motivation theories and wider contextual factors. The findings highlight key aspects that policy makers need to consider before embarking on teacher career reforms. Certain design choices tend to lead to specific challenges and outcomes when it comes to their implementation and certain ‘pre-requisites’ are essential for success no matter which career structure is chosen.
The results of the research will be further enriched by the discussants. These will include researchers, academics and a policy maker (previously Deputy Minister of Education) involved in teacher career structure reform processes. This research is most significant for countries wishing to adapt their teacher career policies with a view of potentially improving teachers’ motivation and ultimately learning. It draws on the most innovative teacher career schemes to provide a panel of choices for policy makers.

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